By April Ray-Peterson
I have been riding horses for thirty years and still I am often amazed, challenged, and even dumbfounded by these creatures. I have had many mounts in my life over the years. Some have broken my heart, some have broken my confidence, some have even broken my body, but all have taught me something. Each horse has taught me not only about riding, but also, if I’ve been open to it, about things that are super relevant to my personal life.
I have come to realize that one of my most significant challenges in life is also a big problem for me in the saddle. I don’t let go of things. Bad things happen to me, and I cling to them like a life preserver. Why? I have no clue. Maybe it’s one part self-preservation and one part stupidity. But I do know that it’s a disservice to me and the people around me. It’s also a disservice to the horses I ride. I’ve fallen off, I’ve been hurt, and it’s sucked. I have ridden horses that were bad, dangerous even, and instilled in me fear and bad habits. But you choose to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on, literally and figuratively. If you can’t, you might as well take up knitting or something similar.
Every time you get on a horse you need to honour that privilege by leaving your past at the ring gate. Be in the moment and let go of the bad stuff so you can take full advantage of the great opportunity you have in front of you. I have always said that as far as relationships go, I will try not to let past hurts affect the way I treat new situations. It just took me a while to realize that I need to do the same with my riding. Every horse has something to teach us, just like every person does as well. Everything in life can be a lesson if you’re open to learning it.
“Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.” – Shannon L. Alder